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generate fonts.scale files

see also : mkfontdir


update-fonts-scale [OPTION] directory ...

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update-fonts-scale assembles a fonts.scale file in an X font directory using one or more scale files found in a subdirectory of /etc/X11/fonts/. It is typically invoked only from the post-installation and post-removal scripts of a package containing scalable fonts usable by the X Window System whose X LFD font names are not in the font files themselves, but may be invoked at any time to reconstruct fonts.scale files. For each directory, which is either an absolute path to an X font directory or (preferably) simply the last component of its path (such as ’75dpi’ or ’misc’), update-fonts-scale will assemble either /usr/lib/X11/fonts/directory/fonts.scale or /usr/share/fonts/X11/directory/fonts.scale from the index files found at /etc/X11/fonts/directory/package.scale, where package is the name of the package installing the fonts.

This enables multiple packages to provide names for fonts in the same directory. No font package actually provides the fonts.scale file in the X font directory itself, so there is no danger of overwriting one package’s font names with those of another.

For instance, the two packages ’xfonts-scalable’ (real) and ’xfonts-nifty’ (hypothetical) may both install fonts into the directory /usr/lib/X11/fonts/Type1. They each place their fonts.scale files in /etc/X11/fonts/Type1/xfonts-scalable.scale and /etc/X11/fonts/Type1/xfonts-nifty.scale (respectively). update-fonts-scale concatenates these two files (as well as any others that match /etc/X11/fonts/Type1/*.scale) into /usr/lib/X11/fonts/Type1/fonts.scale.

The format for fonts.scale files is given in the mkfontdir(1x) manual page.

An example of how to use update-fonts-scale in package maintainer scripts is provided in the Debian Policy Manual.


-h, --help displays a brief usage message and exits.


usage error: one or more font directories must be provided

update-fonts-scale was invoked without operands. Supply one or more X font directory names to operate on.

usage error: unrecognized option

update-fonts-scale was invoked with an unrecognized option argument. Use only the options documented in “OPTIONS”, above.

fatal error: path to X font directory must be used

A directory name was supplied that was not an X font directory name. Supply X font directory names only.

warning: absolute path
directory was provided

Usage of absolute paths is deprecated. Use only the final component of the X font directory name for directory.

warning: directory does not exist or is not a directory

The supplied directory was invalid. update-fonts-scale skipped it.

Notes are only displayed under special circumstances; see “ENVIRONMENT”. above.
index references nonexistent font file filename

The index file /etc/X11/fonts/directory/package.scale, refers to a nonexistent font file, filename. This is normal when package has been removed, but not purged from the system. In other circumstances, it likely indicates an error in package.



indicates the width of the terminal device in character cells. This value is used for formatting diagnostic messages. If not set, the terminal is queried using stty(1) to determine its width. If that fails, a value of ’80’ is assumed.


determines whether low-level diagnostic messages are issued to standard error output. A null (empty) or unset value indicates that they are not, and a non-null value indicates that they are.

exit status


update-fonts-scale ran successfully.


update-fonts-scale experienced a fatal error; see the section on diagnostic messages above.


update-fonts-scale was invoked with invalid arguments.


update-fonts-scale takes one or more X font directory names to operate on as operands. Only the final path component of the directory name should be specified; e.g.,

update-fonts-scale 75dpi

is correct, while ’update-fonts-scale /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi’ and ’update-fonts-scale /usr/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi’ are not.


See the Debian Bug Tracking System ⟨ URL: ⟩ . If you wish to report a bug in update-fonts-scale, please see /usr/share/doc/debian/bug-reporting.txt or the reportbug(1) command.

see also

mkfontdir (1x)


update-fonts-scale was written by Branden Robinson.

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